Here are some great reflections from Tom, an ODI Fellow who just finished his term as a Kenyan civil servant.
I think one of the very many things I'm going to miss about Kenya is the people I work with, just not necessarily the system we were working in.
Which rings very true to me. I worked with some amazing people in Southern Sudan, but good systems take a really long time to create, and bad systems leave you hamstrung.
Which is partly why I am so enamoured by the idea of international migration (and charter cities) as shortcuts to bringing good institutions and poor people together.
We know the secret of development. It is good institutions. We have a reasonable idea what good institutions entail. The only problem is that we have very little idea about how good institutions are established in societies that currently have bad ones.
Yet we persist with the frustrating task of attempting to bring our good institutions to them, rather than contemplating the relatively simple task of bringing them to our institutions.
We already have incredible systems for delivering rule of law, healthcare, and education. We can give these systems to the global poor overnight, and they will stop being poor. Overnight. We could let them move here.